Monday, July 22, 2002

Smooth, mellow flavor of tobacco money

Turns out that tobacco settlement money is not being used to keep kids from taking up smoking, as was originally promised.
"We need to finish this job and move on with saving children's lives," Christine Gregoire, the Washington State Attorney General, said after the $200 billion tobacco settlement was announced three years ago. "This is not about the money … We are getting this industry off the backs of our kids."
Some examples:
* Niagra County, New York spent $700,000 of tobacco settlement money on a spinkler system for a public golf course, and another $24 million building a county jail.
* Wrangell, Alaska spent $3.5 million of the funds on renovating the city docks.
* The former LA mayor wanted to use $10 million of it to defend cops accused of planting drugs and guns on suspects (though his initiative was turned down.)
* Pinehurst, North Carolina got $200,000 of it for a horse track.
* And my favorite, the state of North Carolina spent $42 million of the settlement funds on tobacco manufacturing equipment and promoting tobacco sales